Friday, December 31, 2010

To those for whom the New Year is difficult

pecial warm wishes to those for whom New Year's Eve and Day are difficult. May you discover hope and consolation in the struggle; may regret and resentment melt away as time goes by; may peace of mind and heart and body visit you and dwell in you; if grief is your companion, may its company be gentle; if you are in recovery from addiction, may you find strength to persevere; may you know true friendship, human and divine.

I just posted these words on Facebook. I have decided there is nothing wrong with duplicating posts here.

Photo: Jane Redmont

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"The Low Road"

A couple of months ago I rediscovered this old poem by Marge Piercy. It is from her book The Moon Is Always Female.

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t blame them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organisation. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.
P.S. I just found out on Piercy's website that she wrote a memoir called Sleeping with Cats, published in 2002. Click to link at the name of the book and have a look at the review excerpts.

December 28: Feast of the Holy Innocents

A.k.a. Childermas to you high-church C of E types.

In addition to the best-known paintings of the Massacre of the Innocents by Giotto di Bondone (above) and Pieter Brueg[h]el the Elder (below), I am posting some other depictions of the killing of the innocents. But first, a biblical reminder.

When the wise men had departed, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, "Out of Egypt I have called my son."

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

"A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more."
Matthew 2:13-18

Fra Angelico

Matteo di Giovanni

Giovanni Pisano

Why the attraction of the subject matter? The drama of course; the sheer injustice; the terror; the worst loss a mother can ever endure: the killing of her child -- multiplied by the hundreds and thousands. Mary and Joseph save their baby from death, but later Mary will endure the loss of her son as an adult and be helpless to protect him, as are the mothers in this scene. As are so many mothers.

In last year's December 28 post, I posted pictures of children much closer to our time as well as information about agencies helping children. Remember them. Care for the vulnerable. Holy Innocents, pray for us, and in your blood and the suffering of your mothers remind us to prevent more pain, more deaths, more tears, and to weep in solidarity with those who mourn. In Christ's name, Amen.

Giovanni Pisano, Pistoia Pulpit, detail

Click on photo to enlarge and see detail.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Today I made and baked bread for the first time. Bread made with yeast and kneaded by hand. I have of course made all manner of quick breads: corn bread, muffins, that sort of thing. Not real bread, though. I do have a memory of making little loaves in my mother's oven for some kind of school project, and the funny thing is I don't remember yeast or kneading, but I do remember that the bread rose. Maybe my memory is faulty.

I have two roundish loaves cooling on a rack and of course I could not resist cutting into one and tasting it before it was completely cool. It was good.

These are whole wheat loaves, 100% whole wheat. The recipe is the "Plain and Simple" bread from the Cheese Board's book. I don't own loaf pans, and I don't like pan-shaped bread anyway, so I made rounds (one is actually an oval) and I sprayed the loaves, as they say you should to get more of a crust. It worked, but I need an oven thermometer. I think the oven was too hot. I followed the directions religiously because I wanted to make the basic recipe first and then fiddle with it once I had the hang of it, and the directions said 450 degrees for 5 minutes and then 400. Crust nearly burned. Anyway, I am pleased with myself and with the bread, the house smelled a little like France all of a sudden, and kneading really does get out your aggressions.

I still have writer's block, though. My latest Facebook update says "baking bread and battling writer's block." I need to stay off Facebook. Which mostly I do when I am writing. I am working on a book chapter and now that it is late at night and the bread is out it will probably start "cookin'," but I am trying not to stay up too late, so I'll have to go to bed trusting that the words and more importantly, the sentences will appear in the morning.

Some of this, as I mentioned in the last day or so, is undoubtedly related to the way in which my job drains me of my own writing voice and of much of my energy, but there are other causes too. At any rate, analyzing my writing process is not my purpose here and does not belong here.

The wonderful Fran (formerly of FranIAm blog), who is a dear friend and spiritual sister, now has a blog called There Will Be Bread and there she writes with great fluency and beauty, straight from the heart, and with a good mind, too. I on the other hand am rather dry these days. At least, though, there is bread with crust and crumb, right here, tonight.

Holy One of Blessing, your presence fills creation, bringing forth bread from the earth.*

* Contemporary translation, in inclusive language, of the traditional Jewish ha-motzi, the blessing over the bread.

Photos: Jane Redmont

December 27: John, Evangelist - this year's icon and blog flashback

This year's icon: St. John by William Hart McNichols, S.J. Part of a triptych of Mary, Jesus, and John (remember the scene of Mary and "the disciple whom Jesus loved" at the foot of the cross before Jesus' death) so there is more sadness than glory in this representation.

Last year's icon: St. John, by El Greco. At last year's blog post for December 27.

Cross country skiing in Greensboro

I must be one of the few Greensboro residents who keeps cross country skis by the front door. I live in hope. Also, I don't have enough storage space.

I used the skis early last March when we had a good snow, and today I used them again. Yesterday the sky was grey-white and heavy. Today the sun was bright and the sky clear. Perfect for skiing, though cold.

At last the huge plot of land here is good for something. On Facebook I referred to it all summer as the Humongous Lawn and I was forever mowing it --and suffering from the mosquitos, who love me, and from wasp stings, because we had an infestation. Today I made trails and got quite the little workout.

I love the smell of snow. To me it is the smell of winter vacation. This isn't the Alps, but even in this semi-suburban neighborhood the smell reminds me of ski trips and crisp air at high altitude.

Taking the skis off...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

White Christmas

It snowed yesterday. It snowed today. We have over six inches of snow here in Greensboro.

Trees near house, white sky, late afternoon, December 26.

White on white, front lawn.

Snow on leaves, December 26.

Torn leaf, snow.

Some large evergreen limbs tore off and fell in the storm. Not to worry, the tree is nowhere near the house. No repeats of the Great Tree Disaster. By the way, the house you see in the background is a neighbor's house, not mine.

+Maya Pavlova, indoors looking out. I took the photo from outside and you can see both +Maya looking out and the snowy landscape reflected in the window.

Heavily laden branches.

Consider the fig tree...

Cat on flannel sheets on a cold night.

Click on each photo to enlarge slightly and see more detail.
All photos taken with my BlackBerry camera.

December 26: St. Stephen's Day - blog flashback

Well, the Episcopal Church has transferred the feast of Stephen till tomorrow, today being a Sunday (you can't liturgically celebrate a Sunday and a saint's day on the same day, or rather you can, but you may not).

Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Church --or at least the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops-- has bagged Stephen entirely, because the 26th is not only a Sunday but the first Sunday after Christmas, which in the Catholic Church is the Feast of the Holy Family.

Since I have no liturgical celebrations to attend or at which to preach or officiate, I'm sticking to the original calendar. Today is the feast of Stephen, so there.

No energy, or rather, still hardly any words. Writer's block or something. Here is last year's post on Stephen, which itself has a flashback to two years before that and a feast of St. Stephen poem. Gentle readers, you have probably forgotten both posts anyway, so enjoy the (re-) read.

And thank you for bearing with me. I am well but in a bit of an odd relationship to words. Trying to find a voice again. My job tends to destroy it and I recently spent two or three weeks correcting final papers in other people's voices, many of them with bad grammar, syntax, and usage. Lord, have mercy on your indentured servants in the academy.

Posted on December 27, dated December 26.

Orthodox icon: Stephen the Protomartyr

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010: the first day of Christmas

Joyous Christmas, all.

I am going to try to start blogging again. Today I do not have words of my own, except for the ones I wrote yesterday on Facebook (where you can find me if you miss me here, though it is a very different kind of writing and presence) and which are below in blue. I have also posted a Nativity image (scroll down a couple of posts), a song, and a link to last year's Christmas post.

Greetings to my friends
who are Jewish, Muslim,
Buddhist, Humanist
of many other traditions.
As Christians celebrate these holy days
(in my tradition Christmas is 12 days long),
I remember
that we often have wounded
and killed,
physically and otherwise,
in the name of the one we call
Prince of Peace.
May we in celebrating him
also honor you
and your integrity
and remember that you too
walk in paths of wisdom and truth.

Christmas, a year ago

I have been reading a lot of Merton during Advent.

Coincidentally (or not), I put together this post exactly a year ago. My friend Ann Fontaine just posted the same quotation* on Facebook tonight. Friends think alike.

*Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for Him at all, Christ has come uninvited... [More at the link "this post" above.]



Hiroshi Tabata

As Christmas approaches...

... I think back to France, where I lived when I was growing up. I had hoped to be there for these holidays, but for a variety of reasons I could not go. Perhaps just as well since airport and other traffic in Northern Europe have been in a snarl due to snow. I hear from a friend, though, that things are lovely in Southern France.

Here is "Un Flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle," which some of you will know as "Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella." This is the way it is supposed to sound.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11, 2010: reflection for a student-initiated "interfaith solidarity" gathering

In light of recent events and less recent ones, some students at Guilford College, where I teach, organized a gathering for reflection and meditation. The event was simple and included readings from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim holy scriptures followed by Quaker-style silence with opportunity for anyone to speak. It began with a spoken reflection by a faculty member, who happened to be your friendly Acts of Hope blogger.

Here is the reflection. Bear in mind that

1) it was addressed to a particular audience --in this case, mostly "adult-escent" students and one or two faculty, including a variety of religious, non-religious, I'm-not-religious-but-I'm-spiritual, and other folks, so "pitching it" was tricky;

2) it has some repetitions and will seem a little rambling in places, with questionable sentence structure. I wrote it to be spoken aloud, slowly and somewhat meditatively.

In spite of this, perhaps some of this reflection will be useful to you.

As you may surmise from the words below, I've been teaching Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dorothee Soelle, Diana Eck, and Eboo Patel these days. And the early centuries of the Christian church.

Shalom. Salaam aleikum. Peace be with you.

Reflections on Interreligious Solidarity
Today and in the Long Haul

We welcome each other to this gathering
to which we come in peace
with both our common humanity
and our profound differences.

I always smile and take a deep breath
when someone says to me
“Well, all religions are the same.”
Actually, they are not.

Our gathering today
is an invitation to open our hearts and minds
and (as Thomas said in his invitation letter) our arms
to those who are
not us.

To learn:
Allah is worshipped by Muslims,
as all-merciful and compassionate.

To learn:
There was a Muslim nonviolent leader
Kahn Abdul Ghaffar Khan (known as Badshah Khan)
in what is now Pakistan
in the same era as the Hindu nonviolent leader
Mohandas Gandhi
(known as Mahatma Gandhi).

To learn:
Jewish law is not a set of rules
but a path of life.

To learn:
The Torah and the whole Tanakh
and Judaism
are not just a prelude to Christianity.

To learn:
Jesus was not a Christian.

To learn:
Orthodox Christians who venerate icons
of Jesus, Mary, and the saints
are not worshiping idols.

To learn:
There have been times and places in history
in which Jews, Christians, and Muslims
have killed in the name of God.

To learn:
There have been times and places in history
in which Jews, Christians, and Muslims
have lived together and learned from each other.
Cordoba. Sarajevo. New York.

To learn:
Muslims worshiped peacefully
on the 17th floor
of the World Trade Center
and were among the dead 9 years ago
along with Christians, Jews, Buddhists,
humanists, agnostics, atheists, and
many people whose faith we will never know.

To learn:
On that day,
an openly gay Franciscan Catholic priest
was one of the people who died
not because he was working in the twin towers
but because he rushed over there
and went in
to help care for and pray for
the wounded and the dead.

To learn:
Long before 2001,
September the 11th was the day in 1973
that a coalition of military generals
toppled the democratically elected government in Chile
and established a dictatorship that ruled with terror
for 16 years, banned trade unions,
exiled 200,000 dissenters
killed thousands of others,
and used its laws against a million native people,
the Mapuche.
The U.S. government, except during the Carter era,
supported the dictatorship.

having said all this,
let me make something clear.

Knowledge alone will not save or heal the world.
Higher learning will not guarantee justice
or alone teach compassion.

That would be to say
that only educated people can be holy
and that all educated people are righteous.

That is not true.

The Nazi doctors had lots of education.
They had medical degrees
from distinguished universities
and they used their knowledge
to torture and kill other human beings
both children and adults.
And then they went home
and listened to classical music.

Education is important
and truth and accuracy do matter.

but I want to raise the question for us today
of what kind of education we need.

More specifically,
I want to ask
what practices
–I’d like to call them spiritual practices
and I hope this is a phrase that has meaning
to all or most of you—
I want to ask what spiritual practices
we need to cultivate
in order to live as compassionate neighbors
in this conflicted world.

The world in which we live
is dangerous as well as beautiful.

The hate which we have witnessed in so many ways
--poverty that kills,
violence that kills,
cultural violence,
the threat of burning scriptures, the Qur’an, in Florida,
the burning of bodies in New York and Washington (and Pennsylvania),
the bodies maimed and raped and murdered in wars
right now
in so many countries,
the hasty language in the comments on news websites,
the swastika that showed up on someone's door
in Binford dorm the other day, right here on campus—
all that hate is not going to go away.

The hate is not going away,
though the good news is that there are
many people and groups
from many religions and places and cultures
who do the work of love,
who embody solidarity,
who exercise humility and who labor for justice.

In this world
you will be asked to stand up
for the same values and sentiments
for which you stand today
here in this circle.

You will need to do so
in hostile environments.

Will you be ready?

How will you prepare yourself?

How are you preparing now, while you are in school,
for the kind of witness we give today?

On what (or on whom)
will you draw to help you?

Let me use a word
that will not have a benevolent meaning
to all of you;
it is the word "tradition."
Thank you for bearing with me.

What tradition
or traditions
will you drawn on?

You see, we have company here.

We have company in the way of peace:
in religious peacemaking
and in secular groups devoted to peace.

We have to forge new paths
but we do not have to reinvent the wheel.

People have been here before us.

This is part of today’s good news.
We are not alone, here in our little group.

Both the dead and the living
walk with us and teach us and encourage us
if we will only listen.

We can’t do this work
without community.

And we are not the first.

Our particular community
may be a community of faith and practice,
or a humanist community.
Our communities may be
communities of struggle,
communities of peacemakers,
long established
or fairly new groups
(like the Interfaith Youth Core).

Some of us here
believe that our way
and our community’s way
is the best and the holiest.

are not sure what we believe
or where the way is for us.

Whether we are one or the other
or somewhere in between,
encountering the other
is part of our work in the classroom.

It is also our work everywhere else.

Think of how often
you –let me say “we” here
since of course I do it too.
Think how often we
respond hastily,
inwardly or outwardly,
jump to conclusions,
think first of our own good.

Especially those of us who are privileged
by virtue of our education,
our race, our gender,
and yes, our religion,
if we are members of the majority religion.

are our teachers.

The poor and the uneducated will teach you.

The one you fear will teach you.

Your own fear will teach you.

We have to school ourselves
for solidarity.

It is hard for all of us.

Those of us who are older,
who have some experience and perhaps some wisdom
can lock ourselves inside that experience
and wall off new insight.
We need to remember that wisdom will come
from those half our age
and from territory
where we have not ventured
over the years
out of fear
or habit
or laziness.

Those of us who are younger
who are still figuring out who we are,
building our egos,
shoring them up,
and in the process resisting and reacting,
which is good and part of the journey,
may find out we need to ease up
to let wisdom in.

this will cost you.
This will cost us.

Wherever we draw our inspiration and our strength,
whatever our primary community,
of faith
or blood
or friendship
there will be a cost.

So again,
ask yourselves:

Given the state of the world,
given the misunderstanding, the bias, the hatred,
and given the hope and vision that others
here and elsewhere
have shared with me,
how will I spend these college years?

I urge you,
spend these years equipping yourselves.

And do remind us who teach
that we need to equip ourselves
and school ourselves as well
for the path of peace.

Solidarity is not just today.

Solidarity is a long road.

Learning about each other takes time.

The Torah and the rest of the Tanakh,
the Christian Bible,
the Holy Qur’an:
the riches in them,
the commentaries on them
the disagreements about them
take years to study.

The traditions of the children of Abraham
take years to understand.

So do the traditions of the children of Sarah,
of Hajar (her Muslim name – Jews and Christians call her Hagar),
of Mary, who is also Mariam and Miriam.

Some traditions are written, others not.
They are also part of our collective story
and may take even more discernment and insight
to learn and understand.

Can we take the time for this?

Can we learn
not to make assumptions
about why someone covers her head with a scarf?
Can we learn not to make fun of people
who live by a different calendar from ours
or won’t do business one day a week?
Or of people who lay a mat on the floor to pray
or fall into the joyous ecstasy of Pentecostal Christian worship
or use images in prayer?

Can we learn not to make haste?

How do we learn to discern
when to choose holy patience
and when to choose holy impatience?

How do we learn to listen?

All this requires practice.


More than daily.

Zen Buddhists would call some of this
the practice of mindfulness.

How do we take a breath
and not rush to reaction?

Can we learn
what gives the other person sorrow
but also what gives this person joy?

Can we try to understand
the whole person before us?

Will we also learn to understand systems and communities?

Can we acquire understanding of how
the many media and modes of communication
and of how they shape our perceptions?

Can we learn to understand
our own emotions and reactions?

We can’t do this alone.

We can’t do this without community.

It starts right here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Nossa Senhora Aparecida

A couple of fine friends of mine in Brazil are about to make a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, in Portuguese Nossa Senhora Aparecida or Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida. Here she is!

She is the patron saint of Brazil.

As you can see, she is a Black figure of Mary. She appeared to three fishermen, Domingos Garcia, Filipe Pedroso, and João Alves, in 1717.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Holocaust map - Europe and the teaching of 20th century theology

The link to this map doesn't work, but I saved the image as a jpg.

I am linking a Facebook post to this since the link is cranky and refuses to show up on Facebook.

Make sure you click on the image to enlarge it. (Click twice and it will get really big and detailed.)

Post on Facebook:

Map for the little darlings to study. Yeah, I'm teaching a Christian theology course and they are also getting a good dose of theological vocabulary & questions. But woe unto those who study European theologies in the mid-20th century & after without looking this in the face. And without asking whether & how this affects the questions & the language. And how we understand God. And how theology & ethics are related. And what responsibilities Christians bear.

End of speech. I'm off to edit the Tome.

Monday, August 9, 2010

An Open Letter to Anne Rice

My open letter to Anne Rice, an essay on the church, its flaws, and why you can't be a Jesus-person alone in a corner, is up at the Episcopal Café.

Feel free to circulate prn.

Cross-posted on Facebook.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Watching the birds...

... or the rabbit or the butterflies or the roving cat from next door.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Keep prayin', please

For the wordy request, see here.

Thank you.

Yellow butterfly with brown, blue, and orange

The butterflies are plentiful -- four in one small patch of phlox this afternoon.

There is also at least one local hummingbird (I keep wanting to use the French colibri) which is less than half the size of the butterflies! I can't capture it on camera because, well, it hums. It is beautiful, with bright green and red among its colors. I've never seen such a small one; the California ones were larger.

The first figs

Saturday was also the day of the first figs. The house I rent has a biblical back yard: a vine and two fig trees! The figs are now ripe, more of them each day, and the first harvest was Saturday. I'm going to be giving away figs a lot. Greensboro friends take note. They are delicious. In the photo some of them were still wet from the recent rain.

In other news, we've had rain, grey skies, and lower temperatures. Climbing back up today, but with a bit of rain. It's been heavenly keeping the windows open. And yesterday it was cool enough for me to talk a walk. The birds were happy too and singing loudly in the trees.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ignatius Day: another butterfly

Happy feast of Ignatius of Loyola. Here is another butterfly, fluttering about the flowers at noontime on a rare warm-but-not-hot grey day. It is more yellow than the photo makes it seem, as is the beige-looking butterfly below (at the bottom of that post). The BlackBerry camera distorts some colors.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A brilliant new book: geeks and prayer types please note

A Californian acquaintance of mine by the name of Sistertech has written a truly brilliant, not to mention humorous and touching, book of prayers.

Sistertech transmits her spiritual writings via my friend Pamela Hood, Ph.D., a professor of philosophy in San Francisco, and I recently received a copy of this Book of Uncommon Prayer. Here are a few samples from it.

1.1 Prayers for Morning

May The One in Charge bless us this day, keep us from evil viruses, and bring us stable wireless connectivity. Amen.

Dear One In Charge,
You have brought us in safety to this new day:
Preserve us and our tech devices
with your mighty power,
that we may not fall into sin,
or be overcome by phishing scams, spyware, viruses,
or other adversities;
and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose.

A Morning Psalm for Social Media Users
Open my _____ (state name of social media program or website),
O One in Charge,
and my tweets shall proclaim your praise.
Create in me a clean cache
and renew a right spirit of updating within me.
Cast me not away from my Twitter stream,
take not your holy inspiration from me.
Give me the joy of sending tweets again.
Sustain me with bountiful followers
and plenty of content to retweet.

1.4 Prayers for Sleep

O One In Charge,
while our bodies and computers rest
from the labors of the day
and as our RAM, caches, and our souls are released
from the thoughts of this world,
grant that we may stand in your presence
with tranquility, quietness, and peace.

1.5 Prayers Before and After Meals

O One in Charge,
bless this caffeine to our use
and us to thy service.

Bless the bunch that munch
this lunch.

O One in Charge, Giver of all good things,
may this food and drink restore our strength,
giving new energy to tired limbs,
and new thoughts to weary minds.

2.0 Traditional Prayers (Fran, you will love this one)

2.2. Hail Holy External Drive

Hail, holy two terabyte storage drive,
mother of mercy,
Hail keeper of our life's work,
our sweetest digital files,
and our hope of promotion.

To thee do we cry,
poor banished children of incessant computer crashes;
to these do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping
in this valley of infected and corrupted files.

Turn, then, most gracious defender,
thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this, our exile,
show unto us the blessed repository of our files:

O clement, O loving, O sweet
terabyte drive.

Pray for us, O perfect external drive,
that we may be made worthy of thy promises of safety.

There are prayers to various appropriate saints as well.

There is also a wonderful rendition of the Prayer of Saint Francis, but I will not reproduce it here. You'll have to buy the book!

4.0 The Collects

For Those Who Offer Technical Support

O One In Charge,
we pray that your grace may always precede and follow
those who offer technical support on their service calls.
May they continually do good work
and not make matters worse.

Under 5.4, Ministration to the Sick, there are prayers for sick computers, for the restoration of a hard drive, for computer repair personnel, and so on.

There are also Various & Sundry General Prayers & Thanksgivings including a System Administrator's Prayer for Wellbeing and a prayer For Victims of Gaming Addiction and, of course, For Tech Devices We Love.

I particularly like the Reconciliation of a Penitent, which includes the following:

I confess to The One In Charge,
to geeks everywhere, and to you,
that I have sinned by my own fault
in thought, word, and deed, in things done and left undone;
especially for

(attach digital file if more space is needed.)

For these and all other transgressions which I cannot now remember,
I am truly sorry.
I pray The One In Charge to have mercy on me.
I firmly intend to get a grip,
wake up,
and smell the coffee,
and I humbly beg forgiveness of The One in Charge
and all tech devices,
and I ask you for counsel, direction, and absolution.

Here the witness may offer the penitent counsel, comfort, absolution or a hard time.

Chill out.
Everything's copacetic.
The One In Charge has deleted all your sins.

Whew! Thank God!

And just in case one of your machines has a birthday today...

6.11 For a Birthday of a Tech Device
Watch over this device, O One In Charge,
as its days increase;
bless and guide it wherever it may be.
Strengthen it where it is turned on;
comfort it when it receives error messages;
raise it up if it is dropped;
and in its memory
may thy peace which passeth understanding
all the days of its life.

And there are, of course, Sistertech's Ten Commandments. Do not drink coffee while reading them. Especially when you read the Sixth Commandment:

"Thou shalt not kill thy laptop by spilling within it half-caf/half-decaf, 2%, extra tall, double mochas or any other fluids."

The Sabbath-keeping and no-adultery commandments are good, too.

The Faith FAQ is terrific.

Now this is a book that "prays well."

The book is on sale at 15% discount till August 15 and it is also available as an e-book in pdf form if you prefer.

I know I've posted two pieces of book p.r. in a row, but it's summer, a good time for reading. You will also need this tech-y prayer book when fall comes along, or long before that if you have anything to do with a computer. Yes, you.

Postcript to the Adorable Godson: Don't you dare buy this: I'm sending you one as a new-tech-job present.

Book sale! Get your cool books! ("Cool" rather than "hot:" it's a steamy summer here in the U.S.)

The writing crawls along. Some days are worse than others.

In other news, my paperback publisher has a sale on my book on prayer at deep discount, so buy it! (Let's hope this doesn't mean trouble, just summer sales. Addendum: Nope, no trouble, just some overstock.) It's less than half the usual price! You know you want it. So does your mother. So do your rector, pastor, best friend, father, sister-in-law, lover, parishioner, and spiritual director. Seriously.

I posted this little announcement on Facebook (woe is me, I returned to Facebook, but only for that announcement - true!) yesterday and several people wrote very nice things about the book in response to that update. Those people includes a prison chaplain, an M.D. pathologist, a counselor-in-training, a vocational deacon who works with people who are down and out, and others. Here endeth the shameless self-promotion. Buy the book. Buy ten of 'em.

Thursday night / early Friday : from the New Zealand Prayer Book

it is night.

The night is for stillness.
**Let us be still in the presence of God.

It is night after a long day.
**What has been done has been done;
**What has not been done has not been done;
**let it be.

The night is dark.
**Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives
**rest in you.

The night is quiet.
**Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,
****all dear to us,
****and all who have no peace.

The night heralds the dawn.
**Let us look expectantly to a new day,
****new joys,
****new possibilities.

In your name we pray.

God forgives you.
Forgive others;
forgive yourself.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Meanwhile, over on one side of the house...

Inside the house, Jane continues to write and edit and pace the floor and +Maya sleeps, plays, and pesters Jane for treats, but only when Jane is in the kitchen.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Stalking the butterflies

And finally caught an open-winged photo!

Prayer Posse, this one is for you, with my thanks

My friend Paul the BB is much more faithful than I in posting prayer concerns and requests in his "heart threads" and "Oremus" posts, but I am making bold to join him with a few requests for you intercessors out there.

First there's Kirstin, who is undergoing chemotherapy in an experimental protocol for a nasty recurrence of cancer. She is surrounded by love and very good care and has a strong will to live and live well, but this is one of those cases where the potential cure is very tough on body and soul. Please keep her in your hearts. Pray also (or offer merit or chants -- whatever your tradition is, we welcome it) for her best friend Andee, who has been faithful and compassionate in her attention and care. And for the medical people, of course.

Then there's Joel, beloved spouse of Margaret and informally-adoptive parent of Juan Manuel. Joel has had a bad attack of myasthenia gravis and they almost lost him a few nights ago. He is doing better, "guarded," as they say, and has a host of praying and caring folks in his life, not least of them our Margaret. Please pray for Joel, for Margaret, for Juan Manuel, and of course for the physicians and nurses and other caregivers.

And Fran of Smallbania, dear friend of mine and of many of us both irl ("in real life") and in the blogosphere, has had to forgo a vacation abroad with her spouse and daughter because of a most unpleasant episode in the hospital involving a gall bladder (now gone, bye-bye gall bladder) and several related complications. Fran is at home resting up and improving every day, but she could use some more prayers. She continues to be her thoughtful self and is black to blogging, a sure sign she is on the mend.

Here's a link to the Taizé chant "Bleibet hier" (literally "stay here" and known and sung in English as "Stay with me, remain with me, watch and pray").

Please pray also in happy thanksgiving for Nathan, a young man I've prayed with and mentored a bit, who was baptized yesterday at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Greensboro. Nathan had been baptized as a child but in the tradition of his family, the Jehovah's Witnesses, who do not baptize in the name of the Holy Trinity. So, after becoming quite involved in the Episcopal Church, he asked to be baptized with the ancient Trinitarian formula which is that of most Christian traditions including the Anglican one. Nathan is a member of St. Andrew's but is also involved at St. Mary's House, where he has been co-convening the Centering Prayer and Taizé Prayer with me. (We are on break for July-August but will resume our hour of contemplation -- half Centering Prayer, which is a Christian form of silent meditation, and half Taizé prayer, with chants from the Taizé community, readings, silence and simple prayers -- in the fall semester.) He also helped start a local chapter of Integrity. He is a wonderful young man with much enthusiasm and feels blessed to have found a welcoming and inclusive church with a strong and long historical tradition.

Finally I ask your prayers for me, Jane. I am in hermit mode, chugging to the finish on a very large and long theological project known to the general public as The Big Tome. I have burrowed deeper into solitude and struggle in order to get it done and it is very intense work, even when I am not working consciously. I am well and healthy, I get good nutrition and enough sleep, enjoy the solitude much of the time, and have the wonderful company of Maya Pavlova, Feline Bishop Extraordinaire. She is very good at sleeping, napping, being playful, and keeping me company at the keyboard. She usually sleeps all afternoon but in the evening she tends to be in supervisory mode and hang out here in the study. I have no idea what she does in the morning, since I am keeping odd hours and am asleep much of the a.m. +Maya does come and visit after the alarm clock rings and usually settles on my chest for a while. She is a very civilized cat and does not wake me at 6 a.m. as some other cats are wont to do to their human companions.

I need and welcome your prayers, good vibrations, chants, meditations, and other holy expressions of support. Thank you! Come, Holy Spirit.*

*That's a link to the Taizé chant "Veni lumen" -- "Come, light" in Latin. "Come, Holy Spirit, light of our hearts," etc.

It is beastly hot here in Greensboro as in much of the Eastern part of the U.S. but I do have an air conditioning unit in the study and another in the kitchen/dining room, so I am managing, though the air conditioning is noisy and it is odd to be spending 90 to 95% of my time indoors in the summer. The phlox are blooming outdoors and surviving nicely. The humans, however, are wilting.

Peace to you all, and to all sentient beings.

A photo for fans of +Maya Pavlova

I posted this on Facebook, but those of you who are only blog-readers will enjoy this too, I hope. I took it with the BlackBerry phone camera, so it's a bit fuzzy, but it captures the mood, which is "Ooh, clean laundry!" Not warm, since it had been there for a few days (and to the right you can see the plastic enclosing a freshly dry-cleaned comforter I had brought home around the same time, that's what the shiny thing is) but a great temptation for cats. I'm surprised she didn't burrow in there sooner, but she has other places to go. This was just a brief sojourn.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thoughts on church, change, and living the Gospel: more from Sölle and Naudé (1985)

A follow-up on yesterday's post.

From earlier in the 1985 interview with Beyers Naudé and Dorothee Sölle:  

... If we mean by the church mainly the institution, the structure, the visible, traditional symbols, then I believe that the church, in that sense, will experience one crisis after another, until it comes to the recognition, understanding, that the church, in the real sense of the word, is where the people of God are, where life is being discovered again, the true meaning of love, of human community, of mutual concern for one another, of caring of people, of seeking true meaningful relationship, understand between people, not only between Christians but between all people. Therefore, in that sense I am very hopeful about what is happening, not only in our country [South Africa], but also in other countries, because there are new perspectives, of the Christian faith and of truth, which are being discovered and which are being, as it were, agonized about by so many small groups of people... If I think of South Africa, what encourages me is the fact that sometimes the most meaningful revelation about a new understanding of Christian faith and about the Christian church and about Christian community comes from the poorest, comes from those communities which are normally not seen to be the ones with authority or with power, or comes from those who normally never believe themselves to have any real message. But when you begin to listen to what they are saying, it is absolutely marvellous ... to discover how little I know and how much I need to be constantly converted, in my whole understanding, in my whole willingness, therefore, in true humility to sit at the feet of such people, and learn and hear. ...In that sense I believe there is a tremendous future for the Christian community in the world.

I agree... I think the growth of the true church today comes not from within but from the outside, from the peace groups, from the women's groups, from those groups who in certain fields of post-Christian culture live and think and understand more and more the meaning of the gospel, rather than those who claim to be masters of the gospel, namely those white male, middle-class theologians. ... I think that there is a growth of faith in new forms all over the world, and some of the signs of it are very classical signs, it's base communities..., it is martyrdom, which is one of the classical signs of where does the church live and grow. We in the first world, in relative freedom, don't experience martyrdom in the strict sense of the word. But I think we have to prepare ourselves and others in our midst for more restrictions, discrimination. The price to be a Christian will be higher in the next twenty years, will become higher and higher; it will be much tougher, if you really want to be a Christian. ...I think Christ didn't promise us victory. I think that would be an illusion. Christ promised us life, and that includes death. Christ didn't tell us that we would win. Other people tell us that all the time... We hope to win; we fight to win; we give our blood and our lives... but I think we cannot understand our own struggle in terms of success and non-success.

Hope for Faith: A Conversation
jointly published by Eerdmans and the World Council of Churches in 1986

A post on a related topic (Sölle on the church), from last summer: click here.

This post is especially in response to Claire's comment in the previous post.